The Exodus: The First Plague of Egypt, Part 5
By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to Keep the Faith. Thank you for joining me today as we study another chapter in the deliverance of God’s people. The plagues of Egypt offer stirring lessons to us upon whom the ends of the world are come. The judgments of God are not to be brushed off or trifled with. And it should be easy to see that persecution of God’s people results in disaster sooner or later because judgments are meted out primarily to those who make laws to bind the consciences of God’s people and persecute them. But it’s not seen that way, it is seen as punishment for wickedness like the LGBTQ lifestyle, or abortion, or other evils. While those things are evil and the Holy Spirit’s protection is withdrawn from the nation and people, Satan then moves in and brings huge calamities, disasters, pestilence and war. But rulers of state and church will misinterpret and misrepresent these judgements of God and blame them on God’s people and stiffen their necks and determine to continue their course. They will increase the persecution and intensify it in greater and greater defiance and arrogance when faced with calamity after calamity. In this way they will justify themselves and will miss the truth of the matter.
As we begin let us bow our heads in prayer. Our Father in heaven, thank you for providing the much-needed scripture for our salvation with its instruction that can show us the way. Please be with us as we study the first plague of Egypt and its lessons for us today. And thank you for your Holy Spirit who will enlighten us today we pray. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Turn in your Bibles, if you can to Revelation 14:8-10. Listen as you read along.
“And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb.”
The second and third angel’s message in Revelation 14 is a message that speaks about the fall of Babylon. Egypt was Babylon’s predecessor in rebellion to God. And they are similar in principles and worship. But they are also similar in their persecution of all those who align with truth and righteousness.
Here is a statement that links the plagues of Egypt with the 7 last plagues of earth before Jesus comes again. It is found in Great Controversy, pages 627 and 628.
“When Christ ceases His intercession in the sanctuary, the unmingled wrath threatened against those who worship the beast and his image and receive his mark (Revelation 14:9, 10), will be poured out. The plagues upon Egypt when God was about to deliver Israel were similar in character to those more terrible and extensive judgments which are to fall upon the world just before the final deliverance of God’s people.”
After Moses and Aaron’s attempt to convince Pharaoh by the miracle of the snake, Pharaoh still unjustly rejected Moses’ proposal to release Israel to go into the wilderness and worship. God now told Moses He was going to bring a grievous plague upon Egypt.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand. And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. Thus saith the LORD, In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink; and the Egyptians shall lothe to drink of the water of the river. And the LORD spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand upon the waters of Egypt, upon their streams, upon their rivers, and upon their ponds, and upon all their pools of water, that they may become blood; and that there may be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood, and in vessels of stone. And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.”
My imagination is active here as this dramatic scene unfolds. As Pharaoh comes out of his palace with his chariot and horseman and bodyguards and quite a few attendants to worship. Moses and Aaron meet him there. God foresaw him coming to the river. Moses and Aaron must give him a new summons to surrender, and in the case of refusal, to give him notice of the judgment that would come on the river where they were now standing, and the evil effects upon him and the nation and his people.
Notice was given beforehand so that there would be no occasion to say that it happened by chance or to attribute it to any other cause, but that it might appear to be done by the power of the God of the Hebrews, and that he would know and understand that it was punishment upon him for his obstinacy. Moses was expressly told to take the rod with him, that Pharaoh might be alarmed at the sight of it, which had so lately triumphed over the rods of the magicians.
As Moses and Aaron stand by the riverside, Aaron is instructed to stretch his rod. This was the rod that was already gaining quite a reputation. It is the rod that is going to inflict great trial and pain upon the Egyptians and great comfort and freedom to the Israelites. Aaron was directed to smite all the waters of Egypt with a plague. Aaron does so with great drama. With a broad sweeping motion, he stretches his rod over the river Nile, and it turns to blood. Then he stretches it toward the hills and the rivers, streams and tributaries turn to blood. As Aaron continues to turn with his rod stretched out his rod points toward the farmland and all the ponds turn to blood. And as he turns still further, the city comes into view, and the pools and cisterns turn to blood. All the places of luxury that the Egyptians are used to attending, like the hot springs and the spas turn to blood. He turns again, this time toward the palace and all the vessels of wood and stone that are filled with water to be used for cooking and washing up and drinking turn to blood. When Aaron comes full circle and stops, all Egypt has been hit with the plague and every source of water has the foul and horrid smell. And it goes on for seven days.
This miracle was done in the sight of Pharaoh and all his attendants, for God’s judgments are always performed in public. Truth seeks no corners to hide in. It is open and visible to all.
An amazing change was immediately brought upon all the waters, not only the waters of the rivers but all the tributaries, and ponds and streams and pools. All of them were turned to blood. Whether the plague was on the Israelites is not told us but is implied that it was not, because only Egyptians are mentioned as digging wells to find water.
It was a dreadful plague. This was real blood, not just some algae. When God changed that rod into a snake, it wasn’t fake like the magician’s snakes. It was a real live vicious snake. The same with this plague. It was real. Today, scientist would analyze the water turned to blood and try to say that it is something that it’s not, or explain away the phenomena as some natural thing due to global warming or climate change.
The very sight of such vast rolling streams of pure blood, no doubt florid, viscous and bright red, could not but strike terror in the people. And the consequences of it were about to plunge them into great distress. Imagine not being able to drink for a week. Every bit of healing, refreshing water in that dry environment is turned to blood and is undrinkable.
Water is a testimony to the love and mercy of God. It is the most common natural resource aside from air. God wisely provided it, so abundant and renewable, that it is cheap and almost everywhere. We almost always take it for granted. It seems it will always be there. And the Egyptians had depended on the Nile for hundreds of years to provide irrigation for their crops, and food through the fish that were so abundant. They even worshiped the fish. But Psalms 105:29 says:
“He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish.”
Now they were all dead. And they made all of Egypt, which was a pleasant land, stink with an awful stench that got increasingly putrid as time wore on. The people either had to drink blood or perish with thirst, it seemed, and caused them great inconvenience. Egypt was rendered a very unpleasant place. The people had to dig new wells to get some brackish water to drink.
The Egyptians were guilty of the blood of all the male babies of the Israelites. They had stained the river with the blood of the Hebrews’ children. And now God made their river, their source of life, into a source of death. Furthermore, the Egyptians persecuted the Israelites and took away their God-given religious liberty, and taught them idolatry, and false doctrine, so that they forgot God. Thus they were guilty of the blood of lost souls too. Thus, He gave them blood to drink; for they were worthy.
God’s people have always been the target of persecution and martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus. Their blood has been spilt in many a nation for the witness of Christ. And the Israelites were no exception. In fact, the persecution of the Jews is a type of persecution of God’s people at the end of time. The Egyptians steeled their hearts against God. This is also manifested at the end-time plagues. When a law will be decreed, that requires the people of God to violate their consciences, the nation will have created the mark of the beast. And all who receive that mark by compliance with that law will become the enemies of God and will persecute the true and faithful. But the spirit of persecution actually makes that nation guilty of the blood of all the saints that have died as witnesses for Jesus.
Listen to this. Speaking of the Jews, Jesus said in Matthew 23:34 and 35, “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”
This is this spirit of persecution and those that have that spirit are as guilty of all the righteous blood shed throughout history as if they carried out those murders themselves.
Pharaoh was the supreme pontiff, or the pontifex maximus of the Egyptian religion. He was a type the pontifex maximus of spiritual Babylon (or the pope) to come at the end of time. The only difference was that Egypt was an example of pagan, or secular persecution and Rome and the Papacy are a pagan system of spiritual deception that is cloaked in “Christian garments” and claims to act in the name of Christ.
This plague on Egypt had more significance. The Nile was to them an idol which they worshipped and served more than the Creator. The apostle Paul refers to this when he says the wrath of God is meted out upon the ungodly and unrighteous for their arrogance, pride and false worship.
He says of the wicked in Romans 1:25, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.”
The Nile was sacred to them. And Pharaoh went out to it each morning to worship it. It was known as the Nile god and was identified with Ammon-Ra. It was said to be “self-created” and was sometimes called “the Father of all the gods” and the chief of the waters. The river was considered to have healing virtue. Even the creatures that lived in the river were considered sacred objects of worship. It was Pharaoh’s duty to pay his devotion to the river daily and perform ritual worship at its banks. The plague struck at all those things that they had tried to elevate above the God of heaven.
So God turned that river and its streams into blood which they had turned into a god. The true Fountain of the Nile was rejected by them, so they paid their devotions and supreme homage to its streams. So, God made their river turn into blood to show them where their course would take them. In His mercy He was trying to open their eyes to their folly. The river wasn’t a god that brought them blessings. It was created by a loving, caring, living God who was very interested and involved with His creatures. He was the one who poured out the blessings of heaven to bless men with bountiful harvests and all other necessary benefits of life. That which we idolize, God makes bitter to us or removes from us. He scourges us with it because we make it a competitor to Him.
The first of the ten plagues was grievous enough that Pharaoh couldn’t help but be impressed with God’s power and authority over the elements. But whatever the impression was, it was short-lived, because the magicians did it also, or so they thought. God allowed this to give Pharaoh a hook on which to hang his hat of doubt and rebellion.
Exodus 7:22-24 says, “And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also. And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.”
This plague made a huge impact. The whole nation of Egypt was very dependent on the Nile for their water supply, and the very existence of the kingdom was dependent on its yearly overflow. Egypt wouldn’t exist as a powerful nation without the Nile. The plague struck at the national security of the nation. And threatened their stability and hegemony as a nation.
Let’s take a modern lesson of this. America wouldn’t be a global superpower without its freedoms, especially its religious freedom which was a natural development of Protestantism. America’s superpower status is a result of freedom and the prosperity that freedom brings. Listen to this from Great Controversy, page 441, “Freedom of religious faith was also granted, every man being permitted to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. Republicanism and Protestantism became the fundamental principles of the nation. These principles are the secret of its power and prosperity. The oppressed and downtrodden throughout Christendom have turned to this land with interest and hope. Millions have sought its shores, and the United States has risen to a place among the most powerful nations of the earth.”
America is as dependent on Protestantism, its Republicanism and its religious freedom as Egypt was dependent on its Nile. As Rome becomes more and more successful in subverting and supplanting Protestantism, and Republicanism, America will lose its power and its religious freedom.
This is no trifling or idol statement. The leaders of America have been using the term democracy for a long time trying to get Americans used to thinking of America as a democracy and get them away from thinking of it as a republic. I’m not talking here, about the republican or democratic parties directly, for they are both corrupted. I am referring to two widely different principles of government.
The republican principles are designed to protect the minority opinion. The first principle is religious freedom. You can’t protect the minority opinion if you don’t have religious freedom because the most fundamental beliefs are religious. And there are as many different views or beliefs as there are trees in the forest. No two are exactly alike, though they are divided into species. Religious beliefs, especially minority ones need protection, as demonstrated in the middle ages when minority religious opinions were treated as crimes by the mixing of church and state.
Republicanism stresses liberty and inalienable individual rights as central values, among other principles, and guarantees that those rights that cannot be repealed by a majority vote. The democratic system of government can and will become the tyranny of the majority that will trample rights and liberties of the minority opinions, very similar of the middle ages. Today, under the delusion that America is a democracy, we are seeing the dismantling of those rights, including freedom of speech and religious liberty at an unprecedented pace. We are descending to mob rule.
“The principles of republican government embedded in the Constitution represent an effort by the framers to ensure that the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would not be trampled by majorities.”
Richard J. Ellis and Michael Nelson, Debating the presidency (2009) p. 211
The enemy of true freedom and righteousness is doing everything he can to remove liberty, especially religious freedom. The American administration is doing everything it can to remodel America after Rome’s image. From Antifa to the LGBTQ policies, to the move toward socialism, all of it is designed to take away the freedoms Americans have taken for granted. And because of progressivism, Rome will be established as the undisputed champion of the political discourse in America. It will also take away the freedoms of God’s true people.
There is much confusion today among God’s people about these concepts because they have not been taught. Indeed, the opposite has been taught in the public schools and universities of America. Most people don’t even challenge the idea that America was founded as a democratic government. They just accept the lie as if it was true. This gives Rome a major advantage because her principles of the common good and the rule of the majority align perfectly with democratic principles.
But Rome has been manipulating the politics of America for a long time, and quite successfully. Through many administrations, and yes, even through the Trump administration, it has worked to achieve supremacy. That’s what republicanism was designed to prevent. Some administrations are more responsive than others. Rome has managed to make each party two sides of a Hegelian political debate that Rome has used to get America so divided and discontented that it can offer solace to both sides and eventually get America to do its bidding in religious matters and enact a Sunday law.
We do not advocate for one side or the other. We advocate for the kingdom of God. We look for the kingdom of Christ, a kingdom that will not be manipulated by Rome, a kingdom that is clean and doesn’t deceive. A kingdom that doesn’t divide. That is how we identify. We are citizens of the kingdom of Christ and that kingdom is not of this world. That is where we must place our affections and treasurers.
So, God will have to send judgements on the idols of today just as He did in the days of Egypt. Rome will be brought low. And the evangelical world will be brought low with her. And nations who have been in fornication with her will be bought low by the seven last plagues.
The plague was designed to warn the Egyptians of the destruction that would come on them for fighting God. In smiting the river, they were warned of the destruction of their crops. They were warned of the destructions of their cattle. In fact, they were warned of the destruction of all the productions that these things provided resources for. The river was their life and livelihood. And in smiting it, God gave them an omen of ruin if they continued in their course.
As I alluded to before, this plague was significant because it is a type of the seven last plagues that fall upon the world because of their rejection of truth and determined opposition and persecution of God’s people just before Jesus comes and delivers His people.
In Revelation 16:3-6, we have a description of one of the seven last plagues, the same plague that came upon Egypt, only more extensive.
“And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood. And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.”
The plague of blood at the end of time includes the sea as well as the rivers and streams. This plague strikes deeper and reaches further, and more extensively than the plagues of Egypt. Listen to what Great Controversy, page 628 says about it.
“Says the revelator, in describing those terrific scourges: ‘There fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image.’ The sea ‘became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.’ And ‘the rivers and fountains of waters … became blood.’ Terrible as these inflictions are, God’s justice stands fully vindicated. The angel of God declares: ‘Thou art righteous, O Lord, … because Thou hast judged thus. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.’ Revelation 16:2-6. By condemning the people of God to death, they have as truly incurred the guilt of their blood as if it had been shed by their hands. In like manner Christ declared the Jews of His time guilty of all the blood of holy men which had been shed since the days of Abel; for they possessed the same spirit and were seeking to do the same work with these murderers of the prophets.”
God’s purpose was to vindicate His name and authority before the wicked and stop their boasting. Listen to this from Patriarch and Prophets, page 263. “The Lord would give the Egyptians an opportunity to see how vain was the wisdom of their mighty men, how feeble the power of their gods, when opposed to the commands of Jehovah. He would punish the people of Egypt for their idolatry and silence their boasting of the blessings received from their senseless deities. God would glorify His own name, that other nations might hear of His power and tremble at His mighty acts, and that His people might be led to turn from their idolatry and render Him pure worship.”
But more than that, He gave them an opportunity to turn from their gods to the God of heaven. From Patriarchs and Prophets, page 263 we also read the following. “Before the infliction of each plague, Moses was to describe its nature and effects, that the king might save himself from it if he chose. Every punishment rejected would be followed by one more severe, until his proud heart would be humbled, and he would acknowledge the Maker of heaven and earth as the true and living God.”
But the seven last plagues are not designed to give people an opportunity to repent, for they occur after the close of human probation. God has given mercy added to mercy and has done all He can to convince men of His love. All minds have been made up. Nothing will change them. The seven last plagues are designed so that God can vindicate His name and His justice. Eventually, all will acknowledge the power and authority of God and His justice.
It’s important to note that God knows what He will do in wrath as well as in mercy beforehand. Isaiah 10:23 says, “For the Lord GOD of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.”
So, every consumption or everything that effects the ways of man is thoughtfully determined beforehand. And man cannot escape the sense of God’s impending wrath because they all have a conscience, if it isn’t seared by rebellion. And they cannot avoid the warning of the approaching sword. God is merciful. He often let’s men know of His judgments ahead of time. He warns before He wounds, “[For the Lord] is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3:9.
“And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.”
Think about their food source. Egypt was dependent on abundant fish from the river for food. But the fish had all died thus threating them with starvation. They had to survive just on whatever they could grow.
“And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river.”
This was truly an emergency. The people would die in a few days without water. The Egyptians seeking to find relief from the plague dug wells, and round about the river to find water to drink. They found some, but I want you to think about the amount of water that they found. It was probably small, just enough to let them survive. This shows that God’s wrath is mixed with mercy, and He is full of compassion. Some of the Egyptians might still surrender to God. So, He would not let the subjects smart too much for the obstinacy of their prince.
Exodus 7:22, 23:
“And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said. And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he set his heart to this also.”
Pharaoh endeavored to confront the miracle, because he resolves not to humble himself under the plague. He sends for the magicians, and, by God’s permission, they ape the miracle with their enchantments. This serves Pharaoh an excuse not to set his heart to obey God’s will. And a pitiful excuse it was.
Just like when Moses visited Pharaoh the first time and the magicians counterfeited the snake, the magicians were again consulted. And once more they counterfeited a genuine miracle by seeming to transform a certain amount of water into blood. They must have gotten the water from the wells dug to supply enough for the people to survive. That the magicians actually turned water into blood is not implied in the vague expression “did so.” They only needed to convince Pharaoh that they could do what Moses and Aaron had done. No critical examination was done on their pretended miracle, which in spite of being a trick, was passed off as genuine. Pharaoh didn’t want a careful examination. He just wanted an excuse to turn his back on God’s command.
Had the magicians possessed the power they claimed to have they should have been able to turn the blood in the Nile to water again. The king was satisfied with a fake miracle, showing his stupidity, in this case it was probably the result of his hardened heart. He believed what he wanted to believe.
Does that sound familiar? We live in a post-truth world. People create and believe in their own reality. Many people today want to believe only what they want to believe. Tell us lies, that we may believe falsehood. Just don’t disturb my peace and my security. And anyone who disrupts their concepts of truth, however absurd, is the enemy. And they will turn on you.
Pharaoh turned and went into his house because he was convinced that Moses and Aaron were merely magicians possessing powers slightly superior to those of his own magicians. The sufferings of his country, deprived of its life-giving supply of water, made little impression upon his hardened soul.
“And seven days were fulfilled, after that the LORD had smitten the river.”
The plague continued seven days, and in all that time, Pharaoh’s proud heart would not let him so much as ask Moses to intercede for him with God for the removal of the plague.
The Egyptians worshipped their river. So, God made that which they looked upon as their greatest benefactor into a curse.
Do you feel that at times you want to fight God? You don’t need to you know. Just surrender and let Him transform your life before it is to late.
Let us pray. Father, thank You for the lessons we have learned today. Thank You too, for Your grace and power that is available to us. May we have victory over the enemy. And may we not deceive ourselves and be found fighting God. Thank You for warning us of the nearness of the end of time. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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